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posted on 11 February 2016

06 February 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improves.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market (from Bloomberg) was expecting the weekly initial unemployment claims at 272 K to 290 K (consensus 281,000) vs the 269,000 reported. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 284,750 (reported last week as 284,750) to 281,250. The rolling averages generally have been equal to or under 300,000 since August 2014.

It should be pointed out that Econintersect watches the year-over-year change on the 4 week moving average. There is always some seasonality which migrates into the seasonally adjusted data, and year-over-year comparisons helps remove some seasonality. The four week rolling average of initial claims are 2.5 % lower (improvement from the 1.5 % for last week) than they were in this same week in 2015.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line), 2014 (orange line). 2015 (violet line), 2016 (light blue)

Claim levels are at 40 year lows (with the normal range around 350,000 weekly initial unemployment claims of levels seen historically during times of economic expansion - see chart below).

From the Department of Labor:

In the week ending February 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 269,000, a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 285,000. The 4-week moving average was 281,250, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week's unrevised average of 284,750. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.6 percent for the week ending January 30, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending January 30 was 2,239,000, a decrease of 21,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 5,000 from 2,255,000 to 2,260,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,248,000, a decrease of 6,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,500 from 2,252,750 to 2,254,250.

Steven Hansen

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